Saturday, 27 August 2016

Things you may not want to know … and things you might...

I've been having some health issues this year and although I have restrained from talking about them on Facebook and my blog, I thought I would share some of my experiences. Hopefully this will help others suffering similarly to talk about their problems and also to enlighten their friends and families.

There have been some great breakthroughs in the acknowledgement of the fight with cancer many people go through, and the discussions of mental health issues have done a lot to breakdown the misconceptions held over stress, depression and anxiety and so on. However my problems are with my bowels, and this is something that is still difficult to discuss. Although I am quite happy to share my problems and symptoms,  I am very sensitive to the fact that many people do not want to talk about toilet matters.  It is very hard to judge when one should stop when explaining why you cannot go out, or why I need to feel I have easy access to a loo.  For many years I have suffered from what I thought of as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and possibly still do, but in May my symptoms became more alarming which resulted in my GP referring me for an urgent colonoscopy.  This has resulted in a diagnosis of mild Ulcerative Colitis. This is related to Crohn's Disease which is a much more life changing and a serious matter.  However I am much reassured and hopefully newly prescribed treatments will prevent me from having bad flare ups. This is coupled with a brilliant service run by the the Luton and Dunstable Hospital which means I have daily access to a nurse to answer my questions on-line, and the ability to log symptoms, treatments etc. It is call "Patients Know Best". The principle being that the patients are the most knowledgable about their own symptoms and with guidance the best to managed day to day treatment. Hopefully my disease will remain on the mild spectrum, but what a brilliant service!  I have been on a steep learning curve. I have learned Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), as opposed to IBS, is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself and caused identifiable inflammation in the digestive system, whereas IBS seems to be much more of a mystery.  However both seem to be affected by stress and anxiety.  Interesting IBD doesn't seem to have any identifiable food triggers whereas in some people IBS does.  My doctor  suggested I read as much as I could about the syndrome/disease - something I thought many GPs discouraged, but educating myself made me realise how many people's lives are ruled by their bowel, so this is a brief educational blog. My symptoms showed up after two nasty bouts of bronchitis and a cat bite which resulted in me having three lots of penicillin in a short period of time which may have trigged the more acute flare-up.
Typically this is what happens to me when anxiety, stress or a break of routine occurs … We are having a stressful week with mother-in-law being rushed into hospital, very frail and confused. Unfortunately travelling to Oxford to see her Wednesday has put my digestive system out of kilter and we have had to cancel going to a concert Thursday evening. Change of routines, travelling, disruption to regular meals times all see to be triggers for me, which is why I hate to commit myself to being somewhere or having someone depend on me.  And of course the anxiety of feeling that I may be letting someone down adds to the likelihood of symptoms. I'm the only driver in my family and we want to go and see her again soon, but the prospect of a 90 mile round journey over bank holiday is worrying if you cannot rely on your bowels!!  
(By the way m-i-l stable and being well looked after)

Okay that's enough of that, but I hope to raise awareness of these rather unacknowledged complaints.

I have managed to do a bit of sewing in the meantime. So here is a more light hearted catch-up.
Way back in April we hung an exhibition at Ashridge Forest Visitor Centre as part of the Nation Trust/Embroidery Guild's combined effort to celebrate Capability Brown's tricentenary.   He didn't do a lot on the Ashridge estate, but he did shape what is known as "The Golden Valley" which was the inspiration for my quilt here.

Hanging the show was quite an experience as the visitor centre had never hosted an exhibition before, but we were pleased with the results.  It's on until February if you fancy a lovely walk in the woods, free entry. 

The other exciting thing that has happened is that I am taking part in an exhibition with Herts Visual Arts Textile Group in Hertford Theatre Gallery starting next week. It is called The Fabric of Life and we have all taken on a very different view of a connection with Hertfordshire. The variety of work is great with machine and hand embroidery, woven tapestry, constructed pieces, knitting and felt work. I have three pieces based on photographs I took at St Albans Cathedral.  I went to college in Hertford and spent many of my weekends in St Albans, the Cathedral Park being a favourite student hang out!

Details of Aisle

'Wall' in hand stitch phase
'Window' under the machine.

 'Window' (20cmx20cm)

'Wall' (20cm x 20cm)

'Aisle' (37cm x 50cm)
This last piece is a bit more adventurous for me.  It started as an experiment.  I layered up some recycled cotton, felt and wadding and machine stitched on the arches.  I then dyed it using old rusty tools given to me by my father and strong tea, which reacted with the rust resulting in the grey hues.  I then added colour with Inktense pencils and hand stitched over this colour.  I had intended to make a larger work, but feeling poorly hadn't the energy.  I had intended to create a border and make a more 'finished' piece, but this reflects how this is a snatched impression of inside the cathedral. My fellow exhibitors encouraged me to leave the edges rough and with loose threads.  This picture is a little dark, the sun has gone today.
I invite as many of you as possible to visit the exhibition, and if you can make the Private View, that would be delightful.

Here are some of the photos I took my inspiration from.

Thank you for sticking with me with this, hopefully my next post won't be so long in coming.